Friday, 17 March 2017

Long drawn out updating

After a late breakfast, I finished off my Sunday sermon, then headed to St German's for the Friday Mass and hunger lunch. When that was finished, it was time to return and inspect the office PC. Overnight, it had updated its anti-virus libraries and scanned automatically, and, the download counter for the update backlog of updates stood at seventy five percent. The machine was still locked into completing this as a matter of priority, and the much simpler task of downloading and update the more preferable Chrome browser promised to take forever. So the PC will be left running until Sunday for its next inspection.

Often I read complaints in tech' web articles about the havoc wreaked on workloads by the interference from routine downloads. You can schedule them for when you're not working and are prepared to leave a machine running. To hell with you if don't like leaving computers switched on all the time. Linux systems tell you when software update downloads are available, and let you decide when to activate them. For the most part, these happen in the background, allowing you to continue working. I seem to recall that system tweaks are available that permit users to regulate the amount of bandwidth used by an update, in case a fair amount is required for work. 

Microsoft strives to impose control on this process, by giving their updates absolute priority by default. Their argument is, it's safer for all users, but especially those prone to ignore notifications and refuse to take responsibility for personal computer security. It's possible to opt out of the default and regulate this for yourself, with a little effort, but no choice is given about this default and not doing so generates unhealthy dependency on 'Microsoft knows best'. Users, from the outset should be confronted with a choice about whether they go along with this, and be offered an alternative to manage updating for themselves, with a separate mechanism working along Linux lines. It's already been mooted in on-line forums, but will it ever happen I wonder?

This evening, Owain arrived for the weekend in time for supper, although were obliged to start without him, as we were due leave early and walk in the rain to St John's Canton for a concert. We arrived early, and well before the concert started, Clare had a phone call ostensibly from me, but looked bewilderingly at me across the room, but my phone was silent in my pocket. I took it out to show her, and she looked even more puzzled. I opened the phone and discovered the opening screen had acquired a locking device. My first thought was that my phone had been hacked, as it otherwise looked identical to the way I expected it to. Then the penny dropped. I'd picked up Owain's phone, identical to mine, and he was ringing Clare's on my phone in a panic, to arrange to retrieve his phone before the concert. We arranged to meet for the exchange over the road outside Tescos, asap. I couldn't then call him to check his ETA, as his phone was pass-coded. He did, however, turn up within minutes, and I was able to return in good time to St John's before the concert started.

It was given by the Castalian string quartet, with works by Haydn, Schumann and Beethoven. They are a group of young musicians, playing together since 2011, having met and trained together in Hannover University School of Music. They have risen quickly to rank with top tier international touring performers, and no wonder. They play with such disciplined cohesion and passionate energy as generates exciting performance, rich with emotion. It was a rotten night, so there were hardly three dozen people present. I felt sorry for those who didn't brave the elements to share this experience. The church is a superb music venue for all kinds of live performances, and musicians tend to love it. In the silence between musical movements, the wind could be heard roaring through churchyard trees over the high roof. It was as if the music emerged from the wind, and was driven along by it. A marvellous experience.

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